DoD’s Warfighting Concept with the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Available Downloads

This transcript is from a CSIS event hosted on May 1, 2024. Watch the full video here.

Seth G. Jones: Welcome, everyone, to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. My name is Seth Jones. I’m senior vice president here and director of the International Security Program.

And thank you for joining us both in person and virtually, both CSIS and the U.S. Naval Institute, for a Maritime Security Dialogue featuring Admiral Christopher Grady, U.S. Navy, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Admiral Grady and Rear Admiral Ray Spicer will discuss how the Navy is helping implement the Joint Warfighting Concept and a range of other issues.

The Maritime Security Dialogue, which this is a part of, a broader series, brings together CSIS and the U.S. Naval Institute. The series highlights a range of challenges and opportunities facing the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard from a national level maritime policy to naval concept development and program design, and the event itself – the series – is made possible with the wonderful support of HII and we appreciate the strong partnership with HII that goes back now many, many years.

Admiral Grady is the 12th vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity he is a member of the Joint Chiefs and the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer. He’s also a native of Newport, Rhode Island, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame. Also a distinguished graduate of both Georgetown University and the Naval War College.

I’ll now hand this over for the discussion section with Rear Admiral Ray Spicer, CEO and publisher of the U.S. Naval Institute. While in the Navy Admiral Spicer had extensive leadership experiences including command at sea of the destroyer USS Mitscher, Destroyer Squadron 7, Carrier Strike Group 12. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Admiral Spicer, I hand the floor over to you.

Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spicer: Thanks, Seth. (Applause.)

Thank you to CSIS and thanks to HII for being the great partner and sponsor of this event and this series.

Admiral, I thought I’d start at kind of a high level. First of all, thank you for escaping from the building and joining us.

Admiral Christopher W. Grady: Thank you for inviting me. (Laughter.)

RADM Spicer: Maybe – you’ve been in the job two-and-a-half years now.

ADM Grady: Sure.

RADM Spicer: Got a year and a half to go. Is the job what you expected? Where do you find you’re spending most of your time? And then, probably more importantly, what do you want to accomplish in the remaining year and a half that you’ve got in the saddle?

ADM Grady: Sure. Well, first, let me thank you for doing this, and thank the team for pulling this together. And I look forward to spending some time with all of you here and virtually.

Yeah, the vice chairman job is a really interesting one. As you mentioned, I’m two-and-a-half years in. I’m the first for whom it’s a four-year gig by law, also the first for whom I cannot be the chairman. And that’s empowering. I’m not worried about next job. By law I cannot do anything else, right? And so when we talk about what I want to get done, we’ll come back to that in just a sec.

The vice chairmanship involves living in four worlds. The first is the policy world. And I spend a lot of time in that, so think around the table in the tank with the chiefs and the COCOMs, but think a lot of time over at the White House as a member of the deputies committee or often representing the chairman as part of the principals committee; indeed, a lot of time – nine times last week at the White House. So it’s a lot of – a big lift.

The second is the requirements world. And as the – you know, I’m confirmed to be the chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. That is not a joint-staff thing but it is enabled by the joint staff. I sit there with the service vices and we work through a lot of the big-R requirements that is important to achieve the vision of the joint warfighting concept and to get the joint force what it needs.

On to budgeting, so my best battle buddy is Secretary Hicks, the deputy secretary, at the DMAG. As a co-chair of the DMAG, that’s at least once a week with the DMAG. And in that what we try to do is go from strategy to budget, so from the NSS to the NDS to the NMS with the JWC, the joint warfighting concept, to the table, where we talk about what the budget should look like to enable the joint force.

And then finally, on acquisition, I’m a member of the Defense Acquisition Board as well, so with Bill LaPlante; spend a lot of time on the major programs and their milestones and what that means. Throw in things like the Nuclear Weapons Council and the Deputies Workforce Council, then that kind of fleshes it out.

In the intersection of those four worlds, then, is the vice chairman. And that was surprising. I go to all those meetings. Not a lot of other people go to all those meetings. So on the deputies committee, she is super busy and she has delegated that, in large respect, to OSD policy, for policy. And so when we go over to the – now, the deputy has gone. She was just there last week as an example. But, you know, I go every time. So it’s a busy job.

So how do you get after living in those four worlds? Well, I do have three end states that I’m trying to achieve. The first is joint-force overmatch now and in the future. So let’s pull that apart. Everything’s a joint fight now, right, as you know. And we want to overmatch. We don’t want a fair fight. And I do think in the building we’re trying to transition from adversaries thinking, doing this, and we’re thinking, doing this, and this kind of – we ratchet our way up.

What we really want is adversaries doing this and we’re going to do this, right, to change the calculus. And the now-and-in-the-future piece is the tension that is called out in the national military strategy as the central military problem of strategic discipline, which is current readiness and future readiness. That plays out around the tank.

So we have all the COCOMs up on the screen. You have the service chiefs around the table. The service chiefs are thinking about modernization and in the future. And the COCOMs, they own that risk in the next three to – in the next, you know, one to three years. It’s, I like to say, a constructive tension around the table as we hash that out.

The next is dominant decision advantage. This is really, really important. This is one of the things that surprised me when I came up here. I thought, perhaps, as you – as you build your strategic framework house – you know, your Obi-Wan – I thought perhaps this would be one of the foundational things that we would build on, and we’re not there.

So you can think about things like CJADC2, or how we bring AI to the fight. I do think about everything through two lenses, the force and the foundry. We’re going to need dominant decision advantage in both, certainly on the force side, where we have to be able to plan, execute, assess, and adapt faster than the enemy. Going to be absolutely critical in a hypersonic world, that we – that we might live in, and certainly on the foundry side. So when our partners in Congress say, hey, we gave you a bunch of money. What’d you do with it? We should be able to show them the receipt for that. And I – you know, I think we can – I think we can do better. So that – as a – as an example of what you can get done in four years, that’s become an end state for me, to help the – particularly with Deputy Secretary Hicks, drive to those – to those solutions.

And then the last one is clearly to have warfighters that can fight and win. So, I mean, you could call that the people piece, but it’s really, really important going forward.

Four lines of effort to get there. The first is to provide best military advice. So that’s where you can see the – what takes place in the Tank, or what takes place over at the – over at the Situation Room in the White House. The next is to drive force design and force development. Maybe this gets to the joint force overmatch, now and in the future. If you think about F-sub – and we’ll fill that in, right – so if you think about force design, force development, force generation, and force employment, I think we do force development pretty well. So the services get their budgets, they go out and invest in the things that they need. They do pretty well there. The force generation piece, where they, again, the services take all of that, and they train up the heavy metal that goes forward, I think we’re pretty good at that. The art and science of command, the force employment piece, I think the COCOMs are very good at that.

But where we can do better is on force design. How do we think about the future, the changing character of warfare? How are we going to get there? How do we solve DepSecDef’s three FYDP problem: the one you’re in now, the one that’s out in the future, and perhaps, what is the – what is the bridging in between?

Fourth line of effort: Data-enable the force and foundry. I think we talked a little bit about that. And then – and then finally, it’s to foster a culture of excellence. I do believe that a culture of compliance breeds survivors, but what we really want is a culture of excellence that breeds winners. That means crushing destructive behaviors; encouraging signature behaviors; recruiting; live, virtual, constructive training; how we do individual training; all of those things that wrap up into those warfighters that can fight and win.

The big surprise has been how much time on the policy side. We plot across – my office plots across those four lines of effort, how much time we spend in those. Again, I thought number two, the drive force design and force development, I would live, and we do spend a lot of time there. But a lot of time in the – in the provide this military advice side.

And then what do I want to get done while I’m here, in the last 18 months? I have three goals to get done in the next 18 months. The first is to help the chairman solve that creative tension, that – the – of the current and the future. So we’ve stood up the joint future steering group on the Joint Staff, and it’s my goal to make that one of the most important meetings that we go to, as we spend a lot of time – because the world demands us here – but at least once or twice a week, we’re thinking out here. So getting that instantiated as a critical meeting where – that is very much outcomes-based, and helps us do that force design piece. That’s one.

The second is to continue the trajectory of the JROC, and to make it more effective, to put teeth into the JROC. We were just talking in the back room with our UK colleague. And it’s interesting that my UK colleague, my Australian colleague, you know, they have a hammer that they can drop on joint questions. The JROC does not. It can speak loudly. It can pull some levers of influence. We could write a lot of product. But, you know, the services can do what they want. And so how do we – how do we change that dynamic to make it a little bit more compelling, the work that we do?

I’m very fortunate, though, to have a group of vice chiefs who understand the importance of that. And I think we are well on pace to put some teeth into the JROC, and continue what was started by my predecessors, particularly Paul Selva and John Hyten in making the JROC as important as it – as it should be.

And the last thing is how does the department and the joint force think about things like strategic influence – or, excuse me – strategic information? And I would submit that we were really good back in the – in the Cold War days, of how we thought in that space. And we can be better. We can be more deliberate. We can have a longer-term view of that. And so working with the undersecretary of defense for policy and the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, we’re going to – we’re going to press hard on how do we get back into that – into that game?

RADM Spicer: All right. Well, thank you for that. You touched on the, I think you called it, constructive tension about thinking about near-term readiness as opposed to the future fight, and being, you know, ready for the future fight. Modernization, new construction, things like that. And the department has long, you know, had to struggle with that, right? How much do I apply to the near-term fight? How much to the future fight? But I would imagine that with – in the current geopolitical situation that it’s even more challenging to do that, right, because everything’s drawn into this current fight. How do you find that we’re doing today at trying to strike that balance?

ADM Grady: Yeah. It is very challenging. But it does start with the strategy. And I think the National Defense Strategy – certainly starting in 2018, but clearly in 2022 – where we kind of went from four plus one, you know, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, VEOs, to two plus three, where within 2022’s NDS it talks about the pacing challenge and the acute threat. That is very well explained. And the department, from the secretary on down, strives very hard to live up to the demands that we – that I think are correctly laid out in the National Defense Strategy.

But you’re right. The world gets a vote on these things. And certainly what’s happening in Ukraine, or what’s happening in Gaza, or what’s happening in the Red Sea, or even into Africa if you want to go there, these are all things that are challenges that we have to work through. And they do stress tests, are we able to then devote where we – our attention where we really need to? And particularly in the Western Pacific. So. yes, it is challenging.

I am confident that we are still able to do that. And if you look at, for example, the work that comes out of the DMAG and the budget, and you look at the investments that are there, you see it reflected in the – what we’re trying to buy to build out the joint force. A little bit harder in terms of where forces are portioned. And so certainly what’s happening in the Red Sea is an example. But we’ll work our way out of that. And I do think that if you have empowered leadership, like you have out in INDOPACOM or Chris Cavoli in EUCOM, they articulate very well for the acute challenge and the pacing threat. Challenging, yes, but I think we’ve been able to achieve where we want to go with the NDS.

RADM Spicer: Good. Thank you. I’m going to touch on the budget, just a little bit. The services and industry, I think, for the most part, need stable and predictable funding, which has always been a challenge. I don’t know that we’ve ever had stable and predictable funding.

ADM Grady: Fourteen of the last 15 years, we haven’t.

RADM Spicer: We finally have a 2024 budget, albeit it took a couple of CRs to get there. So six months’ worth of a CR. So two-part question. One is, what’s been the impact of that on the budget – on the force, actually? And then if you look at the 2025 budget, probably more importantly, it’s constrained by the Fiscal Responsibility Act. So it’s not even keeping up with inflation. Do you think that that’s going to get a harder look in view of the current geopolitical situation?

ADM Grady: Yeah, I think it always gets a very hard look at it. We’ll get a harder look. I’ll hit that softball first. A stable, predictable funding, no CRs. CRs, bad. Take that home. That’s true. Fourteen of the last 15 years in CR environment. The CR this year is the fourth longest we’ve had, up to six months. And all of the – all the deleterious effects of a continuing resolution that you’re very familiar with – no new starts and the rest – that is harmful. So, working with Congress, they have worked with us on multiyear procurement. Six of the seven things that we asked for they gave us multiyear procurement, not just on the big systems like carriers and others, but things like ammunition. Good news. Bad news is we went six months where we weren’t able to put any money into that, across those six multiyear programs, and so now we have six months to try to get that done and to execute that money.

So very, very challenging to do. And in fact, I thought the secretary and the deputy gave really strong guidance when they said focus this year – as we built out the budget – focus this year on the current and then we’re going to have to work with Congress, count on Congress’s leadership to help us get ourselves out of that and more into the future for ’25, ’26, going forward. I thought that was really strong guidance, and so the budget reflects that, but we’re going to need help, ’26 on out, to get back to the pace that we’re going to need.

Now, that’s just us, right? We could also talk about our industry partners and how important it is for them to have that consistent and stable demand signal. We want to give that, and we want to be as good a partner as we can. I think individual congressional members want to do that. It didn’t happen this year and so that’s very challenging for our partners in industry. And so, it’s not just the department, it’s, you know, the folks who help build it, the foundry, and we’ve got to get it for them as well. So, if you’re a company, then, and you can’t hire to it, you can’t buy the long lead-time material that you need – these are all the challenges that happen when we’re in a CR environment. I was just at Quonset Point with Electric Boat, both at Quonset Point and at Groton. You know, they’re trying to build out their workforce back up to 25,000 submarine builders, and without that stable demand signal, they can’t hire. Now, I think, fortunately, they’re on a good glide slope to get there, with their partner down in Newport News, but it’s challenging.

RADM Spicer: Yeah, and skilled workforce is a big part of that.

ADM Grady: Right. So they want to hire up to 5,000 artisans, and, you know, without the money to do it, they can’t invest in that going forward.

RADM Spicer: I’m going to switch topics on you: lessons learned from two very different but in some ways very similar conflicts, one being the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the other being the Red Sea. This is a maritime security dialogue, so I know Russia-Ukraine is not necessarily maritime, although there is a maritime component. In what we saw early on – that conflict is in year three now. We saw early on the Russians had some challenges with maneuver warfare. We saw that they had some logistics challenges, low troop morale. I want to try to get your sense of where that is today. It seems to have – they seem to have turned the corner a little bit. On the Ukrainian side: also challenges with maneuver warfare, but they seem to be innovating quite a bit, you know, everything from an iPhone to Starlink to developing their version of an unmanned surface vessel that is essentially a couple of jet skis that are souped up and loaded with explosives and are taking out Russian combatants in the Black Sea. So just wanted to get your sense of how that conflict is going and – especially since, you know, it’s in year three now and see what’s changed.

ADM Grady: Yeah. I think you’ve hit on many of the dynamics that we should all be focused on. I think, you know, it – certainly not necessarily a maritime fight, but for all of us who are thinking about these things, you should go up a notch strategically and think about what we’re learning and what the rest of the world is learning, right, on this. War is a reality, right? Authoritarian regimes who do bad things that are contrary to the rules-based international order are a reality. The strength of unity, however, and you can think Europe writ large and NATO, is very, very powerful, so how do you continue to encourage that? We talked about the industrial base. We could spend some time talking about what we’ve learned about the criticality of a deep and resilient and robust industrial base. We can go there and spend some more time talking about that. Dual-use technologies – and Starlink jumps to mind as an example of how – that is an element of the changing character of warfare. Arguably, it’s fair to say that nuclear weapons and their existence shaped a little bit of that battle space. So the rest of the world will see that, that nuclear weapons are a thing and are important.

And then to your point about both the Russians and the Ukrainians, I think you’ve captured some of the things that have challenged, you know, that fight. But they’re both learning organizations. You talked about the impressive innovation and learning on the hands of our Ukrainian partners. And, boy, should we applaud that and their will and what they’re trying to get done. All of that is very true.

But the Russians are a learning organization, too. So never underestimate your enemy, right, and we should recognize that they are a learning organization.

Let’s talk about the evolution of that fight and, you know, from a perspective of, you know, maybe what we provide. Early on what were we talking about? We were talking about MANPADS and Stingers and Javelins and then we move forward to HIMARS and GMLRS and now, you know, that the decisions have been made to provide even longer-range munitions. That, I think, reflects the evolution of the battlefield.

Second, early on we didn’t see EW. It shocked us. We were, like, gee, that’s interesting – why have we not seen that play out early on?

Well, it is certainly, perhaps, one of the defining characteristics of that battle space right now and then, similarly, the import of ubiquity of uncrewed systems as they have been brought into the fight. So back to how both sides have learned.

Russian ability early on was challenged but they have now figured out how to use unmanned/uncrewed systems as have the Ukrainians. So another element, another characteristic, of the changing character of warfare there.

Yeah, maneuver. I’m confident that if we were doing maneuver the way we do it that we would maybe have more success. But, certainly, while we talk about all these modern systems what is it that has been super challenging? It’s been artillery, dragon’s teeth, trenches, mines. Pretty tough. Hunter killer groups, both sides now doing dismounted operations and, largely, again, a lot of that driven by the ubiquity of uncrewed systems in an EW environment up there so how do we accommodate that.

And I guess a couple others. You know, how information, particularly intelligence early on, was weaponized. Some strong policy decisions, I think, from the president on down on that and then, certainly, how things like the iPhone have been weaponized in the hands of a determined adversary like the Ukrainians. So a lot goes into play there.

RADM Spicer: Yeah. You touched on artillery and I noticed that in that conflict there’s heavy use. The Ukrainian side – don’t quote me on the number – I think have fired over 2 million rounds of 155 and it’s interesting that they’re using that kind of weaponry but I think it’s, largely, because the Russians have been jamming GPS-guided weapons so then rendering them ineffective.

Is that what you’re seeing in that conflict?

ADM Grady: Well, that’s part of it. Certainly, heavy use of artillery kind of plays into the way of warfare for both of those armies.

That’s kind of how they think about things. And back to maneuver then what we’re seeing is shoot then move as opposed to shoot and move at the same time and that’s been challenging, and I think there’s some – there’s cultural legacies there of how they fight.

Certainly, when we were training our Ukrainian colleagues for the offensive last year we were working very hard on shoot and move at the same time. Hard to do for sure.

But to your point then about GPS jamming I’ll tell you, I mean, if you’re in industry that has immediately risen to the top of my list. It’s already way up there. But alternative PNT is going to be absolutely critical. Let’s get some solutions on alternative PNT because that’s the – that’s the fight of the future. We’re seeing it play out right there.

I do think there’s some other elements of it, though. And that is, you know, how do both sides use counter-battery fire, and the rest. So there’s a lot that goes into it. But it will still be a dominant feature of the battlefield. It is today. Thankfully, we have the supplemental now that we can continue to push 155 in. And it will be a dominant feature of the battlefield going forward.

RADM Spicer: Yeah. Recent reporting – well, first of all, the $6 billion aid package for Ukraine was approved. A sense of what that’s going to entail. You know, what are we going to provide Ukraine? And then the reporting is that it’s not going to come out of our stockpiles like it has been in the past. And it’s going to have to be produced, which will inject delays in, you know, how soon we can get it to Ukraine. Any thoughts on that?

ADM Grady: Yeah. So what do they – what do they need? Let’s start there. I think it’s fair to say that air defense, artillery, as we just discussed, long-range munitions, EW, and then – and then anything in the – in the unmanned space, whether it’s unmanned systems or counter, that would be where I would – where we’re thinking about how we can support them. Recognizing your reporting, you know, where it comes from we have ramped up – for example, we have ramped up 155 production here. And the larger international industrial base has tried to do the same thing. So certainly, some could come directly from the frontline.

But I do think that we will continue to make risk-based calculations about, depending on the type of ammunition or requirement, could it come from us and they’d be back-filled by our defense industrial base? That option is on the table as well. So I think all modalities to get it to – to get it to the Ukraine are on the table. To include, hey, everybody else, what do you have? What can you bring to the fight? One that concerns me the most is air defense. And what can we bring to the table for them, because what we have seen now is a change – and this is all open source – what we’ve seen now is a change in Russian thinking, which says, hey, we’re going to go after critical infrastructure, and the electric power grid. And so, you know, how do you defend that?

RADM Spicer: Yeah. Well, you mentioned air defense. So it’s a great transition, because I want to talk about Red Sea.

ADM Grady: Sure.

RADM Spicer: And, again, from a lessons learned standpoint, we’ve seen lots of use of drones – UAVs, some attempts at USVs, and then sort of a feeble attempt at a UUV on the part of the Houthis. And then it’s been an air defense fight for the U.S. and the coalition, and also strike has been a big component of it. Lessons learned from that conflict? You know, there’s lots of similarities with what’s going on in Ukraine from the unmanned vehicle side, especially. But just wondering what your take is on it.

ADM Grady: OK, so, again, let’s start and go up strategically. First, this is a challenge to the international rules-based order. We all have a piece of this. We all need to contribute. I would like to see more from concerned stakeholders perhaps even in industry about the costs and impacts of having to go all the way around, right? So that leads me to the second strategic thing. And that is the solution there is not a military solution. So we will – we will do what we can, but that’s not going to solve that problem. And so we’re going to need to figure out the – “we,” the big “we” – are going to have to figure out other ways to do it.

And the third strategic thing that we should take away from it is this is, to me – particularly when you look at the Houthis – this is a reflection of this transition from the unipolar world, if you want to call it, following the Cold War, to maybe a multipolar world, where now you have the acute challenge and the pacing threat, to a multi-nodal world where you have hyper-empowered entities, whether they’re individuals or nonstate actors, like the Houthis, that are – have a huge and outsized impact on the international environment. Those would be three takeaways I would have there.

So uncrewed systems versus what we have at sea, as an example. And although we get a lot of support from the Air Force in this as well, yeah, it has been in air defense fight. And so execution of – so, the big lesson learned here is, one, we all know it’s a crappy exchange ratio, right? And so what can we do to get past that? I take the ASBM piece off the table. There’s really only one capability that can get after, and that’s your DDGs at sea with the appropriate capability to get after that. And they’ve been very, very effective.

I think where you’re – where we think it’s – where we’re less sanguine is, you know, a $1.5 million SM-2 and an Iranian-provided UAV – that’s the other thing. Don’t forget, they’re behind all of this and enabling what the Houthis want to do, and continue to do so.

And so we have learned. And so non-kinetic – I don’t want to get too into the specifics, but how we bring defense in-depth into play, CAP, whether it’s off the carrier or with allies and partners or with the Air Force, and its ability to take out UAVs, we’re getting pretty good at that.

RADM Spicer: Yeah.

ADM Grady: Much better exchange ratio now. Non-kinetic effects have become increasingly successful as we continue to learn and refine our TTPs.

So I guess the last thing would be, you know, the future, the change of character of warfare. What are those things that we can develop and bring to bear, whether it be directed energy or something else, that improves that exchange ratio? I think we all along knew directed energy, where a drop of fuel becomes a weapon, is a way to go. And we have to continue to pursue that, as an example.

RADM Spicer: I would just remind our audience that – to use the QR code if you have questions, because we’re more than halfway through the dialogue here so far. But – so please send in your questions.

Just before we leave the Red Sea – and again, don’t quote me on the numbers, but roughly 70 percent of the commercial shipping is choosing not to go through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden –

ADM Grady: Right.

RADM Spicer: – and instead go around the Cape of Good Hope. So critics would say that the Houthis have been effective in deterring that from happening and saying that we are ineffective in our deterrence capability. I just wondered what your thoughts were on that and that scenario. I mean, does it impact our longstanding deterrence strategy –

ADM Grady: Yeah.

RADM Spicer: – when you’re able to do that?

ADM Grady: Well, I don’t know whether they’ve deterred, but they’ve certainly cost-imposed, all right. And so if you look at Prosperity Guardian, Operation Prosperity Guardian, that’s been pretty successful, right? But that’s a function of who’s there to support that and that transition from a zone defense to man to man as you move through the chokepoints.

But again, to me, this reflects the fact that, you know, the military can do and has done very successfully what it’s doing under the construct of a Prosperity Guardian or something else. That’s not going to solve the problem.

RADM Spicer: Right.

ADM Grady: So we’re going to need other factors and, you know, other entities across the DIME are hard at work at this. But the M is not going to solve that problem.

RADM Spicer: Yeah. And they’re doing our fantastic job, our ships and aircraft.

ADM Grady: Very pleased. You know, talk about some frosty COs and well-trained crews out there.

RADM Spicer: Yeah.

ADM Grady: To me it speaks to that force generation, force development and force generation, which I gave you my grade on that was pretty high, and I think it’s playing out right there for sure, as well as the ability to learn quickly and fast. You know, our ability to take every engagement – and I’ll get a little wonky here, but get everyone engaged, get it back to Dahlgren or to SMWDC in San Diego, where all the Woodies look at it and go, good, do that some more, or think about that. That ability has – in my view, has manifested itself in the confident warfighting culture that you see across the ships, and the carrier, for that matter, but with the airwing.

RADM Spicer: All right, I’m going to give you one more, but I see some coming in already. And again, it’s on lessons learned. But you talk about air-defense capability. The Iranian strike on Israel –

ADM Grady: Yeah.

RADM Spicer: – where they launched some 300 missiles, drones, and largely did no significant damage to Israel.

ADM Grady: That’s right.

RADM Spicer: To what do you attribute the success? I know the Israelis had some good I&W that this strike was coming, so they had some prep time. But to what do you attribute the success of the coalition –

ADM Grady: Yeah.

RADM Spicer: – in defending against that strike?

ADM Grady: Well, I mean, it starts with force development, and the systems that have been developed either by the Israelis themselves, or in – or working with us. Arrow – the evolution of Arrow as a pretty capable system. The DDGs that were in their box off the coast performed as designed, as part of that ballistic missile defense mission. So I think we’re buying the right stuff, and training the right way.

Let’s talk about training, though. Our ability to manage that with our partners, to manage that battle, if you will, is largely a product of, you know, years of working with your – with your allies and partners, in this case, especially the Israelis, as we coordinate and deconflict who’s going to shoot what, when, and with what – with what system. You don’t just turn that on overnight, which gets to the import of having allies and partners, and working with them to build that – to build that capability.

Then the ability to think in a – in a defense in depth perspective. So this was particularly the case on – with one-way – one-way attack drones. Not successful at all, and we had a big part of that with – in addition to the – our allies and partners. So pulling that all together then, with a very capable ally that we had practiced with a lot, and with the support of allies and partners in the region. You don’t just surge that, right? You’ve heard it a hundred times, you can’t surge that trust.

RADM Spicer: Yeah.

ADM Grady: And so what we got was what we – what we’ve been working on.

RADM Spicer: Yeah. Pretty impressive results.

ADM Grady: Yeah.

RADM Spicer: All right, I’m going to take questions from the audience. And the first one, believe it or not, is from Sam LaGrone at USNI News. (Laughter.)

ADM Grady: Shocking.

RADM Spicer: The question is: How will delays in the test and development schedule of the Navy and Army conventional prompt strike program affect the fielding of hypersonic weapons aboard Zumwalt, and then the Virginia Payload Modules on the Block 5 boats? Will the Navy be able to meet the 2025 goal for Zumwalt?

ADM Grady: Yeah, I’ll let – I’ll let Sam ask the Navy about meeting their goal for – what I’ll talk about, one level up, is the import of the hypersonic fight. And I did see – I did see VPM going into Block 5 up in Rhode Island and Connecticut. It’s unbelievably impressive.

Just a quick – just a quick comment on digital design, digital engineering, how important that is, and the advances in a 21st-century foundry in both of those places, which is enabling VPM to add 83 feet to a Virginia. That is a big boat, and it’s going in pretty rapidly. I was there as they were moving – they had taken – they had taken one of the huge cylinders. They had turned it this way, and they were sliding the decks in, you know, two inches every 15 minutes. It’s really, really impressive.

But conventional prompt strike in DDG-1000, or on VPM, or across the joint force is going to be really, really critical. It is an answer; it is not the answer to the fight, as you know. And – so we want to have that mix of capabilities, and hypersonics are going to be – are going to be really important. No doubt that the delays, you know, will not get that capability in the hands of the warfighters as quickly as we might like. But that’s just what it is, better to do it right than field something that’s not going to work, though.

RADM Spicer: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you.

Next question, Theresa Hitchens from Breaking Defense: You talked about new teeth for the JROC. Can you elaborate on some specifics, on what further measures you might be able to take to push the services to work more collaboratively, especially on JADC2, and CJADC2, where despite rhetorical support, each service has been essentially going their own way?

ADM Grady: So there’s a bunch there. (Laughter.) That’s like five questions, thank you.

So let’s talk about the JROC, and the evolution, the trajectory of the JROC. I think there’s four things that you might want to focus on in the trajectory of the JROC. The first is – and I have my little cheat sheet, my card here, right, that these are the things that I’m confirmed to do by the – by the Senate. The first is this transition to – in addition to service – give me a widget, I’ll validate it; I get a little jingly-jangly when I hear that – what I really want to hear is here is a – here is a top-down requirement, and then we validate that requirement around the table as the service vices, and then we open that up to any stakeholder to bring that in. So this top-down approach that was started, you know, with Paul Selva and really accelerated with John Hyten, that’s the first big step in the evolution of the JROC. It doesn’t say we don’t do the other as well, but this emphasis then on the top-down is pretty important. And so where does that come from? Back to the linkage to the Joint Warfighting Concept, and the concept-required capabilities that are embedded there, and the analysis that says those capabilities, do we have a gap, those then become top-down.

RADM Spicer: So top down.

ADM Grady: The second is a portfolio approach. In the past, there were too many widgets that we were talking about, lots of stovepipes. So we’ve gone to capability portfolios. And that has been very powerful to break down stovepipes. In fact, so powerful that now – my personal thinking is, so now we have these capability portfolios. How do I get across the portfolios so that they don’t just become huge stovepipes? But the portfolio approach has been really important. And we’ve really ramped that up during my time.

Part three is this portfolio approach is now being used by our partners in the department. So Bill LaPlante and his team at A&S have their own IAPR, or acquisition portfolio reviews, that are being – now we’re doing them in parallel. So we come together so that we can go as fast as we possibly can. And then there’s a third leg to that triangle, which is just getting off the – out of the gates now. And that’s what Heidi Shyu is doing in the R&E world. So requirement is established here. Here’s what we think we can bring. So here’s the requirement portfolio. Here’s the acquisition portfolio. And then Heidi can look at it from the ground up, sitting around the table with us, and go: Maybe you might want to think about this. So she has her own version of technology portfolios.

So the triumvirate of those three together, and early, is adding a lot of – a lot of momentum to the work that the JROC is doing. Now, the last one is how do you put teeth into it, right? We do write a lot of JROC memoranda. I have taken to directing the services to do things and requesting the department to do things. Doesn’t mean they have to do it. There’s several ways to solve that. One’s change Goldwater-Nichols, right? That’s a big lift. It’s not going to happen in my 18 months left.

Another, though – and this is where I’m – this is where we’re spending a lot of time – another is in traceability. And so what does that mean? Gap is identified. Requirement is written. It goes to the DMAG. Risk discussions are had. It shows up in the POM, to some extent. And then we measure that back. Is that gap being closed? So our ability then to trace all of that through and then give a report to the chairman, the SecDef, on we said this, here’s how this all traced back, let’s have the big boy/big girl discussion about whether you’re happy with that. That, I think – that traceability, that ability to put a scorecard up, and then have that closed-loop discussion about are we doing this right, is this exactly what you wanted? And then the secretary or the deputies can go to the services go, let’s adjust. That’s where we want to go on the teeth piece.

So how does that apply to CJADC2? Well, I think the premise of the question was perhaps correct early on, but I have – you know, having gone to see Overmatch now, having gone to see ABMS, having been out at Project Convergence and the exercise that they – that the Army was running, I think increasingly, the services are working together, they have a different approach to it, but they are working together to bring capability that can be integrated. Couple of things there. Let’s first start with the JROC. We have a well-written requirement for CJADC2. I will tell you, though, that after about a year, I kept hearing, yeah, but you haven’t told us, and we need to know, you know, how many – how many data fields in that code line, and give us that requirement, we can build to it.

And I heard that. I looked at the requirement, which was intentionally written to be a little bit broader to allow stakeholders to come in. So that’s kind of big-R. Little-R would be a service and how they would do it. And I said, you know vices, I’m kind of tired of hearing this. We’re going to have a JROC just on this. And we went through the requirement that we had written, that was written philosophically that way, and we validated it again. So I’m comfortable where we are on the – on the requirements side.

And I think the last thing is, you know, the deputy and I have instituted a steering group to really start to pull this all together. And one of the things that we, especially she, has been stressing is, hey, we’ve got to start talking about lead behind, minimum viable product – that’s what the Navy would call it – in overmatch, or minimum viable capability, so we do a series of experiments like GIDE – you probably heard of that. We used to do them and write a report; now that’s not good enough. We’re going to do it and we’re going to leave behind some capability and start moving out. And so this emphasis, then, on outcomes that empower the COCOMs, whether it’s out in INDOPACOM or what Chris Cavoli’s got to do or what – (inaudible) – has to do out in INDOPACOM, it’s about getting them capability faster. So is it perfect yet? No. But we’re working at it.

RADM Spicer: Great. Thank you.

I’m not playing favorites here. I’m taking them in order. Seth Jones from CSIS has a question. We haven’t talked about China. Seth’s question: China has provided increasing dual-use aid to the Russians in Ukraine. North Korea and Iran have also provided aid to Russia. So two questions: What are the U.S. options to decrease Chinese aid? And second question, what are the broader implications across combatant commands with U.S. adversaries willing to support – I just lost it –

ADM Grady: Each other?

RADM Spicer: I don’t know.

ADM Grady: Each other, Seth? Yeah.

RADM Spicer: Each other. Thank you.

ADM Grady: Yeah. I think within the department, the levers that the secretary can pull or the chairman can pull on telling China, don’t do that, are what they are, right? I mean, they can talk about it, they can expose it, at the right time and tempo, but the department itself isn’t going to, you know, shoot something or whatever. But having that dialogue at the right time and right place I think is very powerful, so they have a very, very loud voice. That also can be external and it can be at the White House, as an example, with a larger interagency. And then having that informed discussion, then, that is intel-based or even if it’s just open source, is something that can be kicked around at the Sit Room, where the other elements of national power can be put to play at the direction of the president, if that’s how he chooses to go forth. It does start with understanding, though, so that is one thing we can do. We have to have situational awareness of what is happening so that at least we understand and we know what is going on. And so, you know, we do have things that we can do to make that the case. Do we understand our environment in that regard?

I think as a COCOM, I think recognizing that that’s happening, building on the intelligence, and then you build your inputs to the budget process or your tactics, techniques, and procedures, the TTPs, to account for that. I think that’s what they get paid to do is to understand that, and so ultimately it does start with having a good understanding of what’s happening, being – pumping that into the larger interagency, and then adjusting and mitigating appropriately. So that’s how I would answer that.

RADM Spicer: Great. Thank you.

Next question is from Chris Munch from ODNI: Given the prevalence of top-down attack systems and ubiquitous surveillance, what needs to change most in ground and maritime surface maneuver doctrine and capabilities?

ADM Grady: Yeah. I’ll go up a notch on that one because it is supporting fires, to Chris’s question. If you ask Chris Grady’s view, the most important domain is space. Space is the critical domain because it enables all terrestrial advantage. And that’s what leads to top-down ubiquity, as he talks about, and across all domains. So if you’re flying, if you’re on the surface of the Earth, if you’re at sea on the surface of the ocean, then you’re going to be seen, eventually, so it puts – it translates the modern fight into one of hiders and finders, right? And who can do that better will win. Massing of tanks by either the Ukrainians or the Russians, because of the ubiquity that he’s describing, has become super-challenging, right?

Just one editorial, though, for this crowd, given the maritime: Notice I didn’t say the undersea. We have not come close to breaking the opacity of the undersea, so space we must lead and dominate in that because it enables everything else, and we must maintain our lead in the undersea.

RADM Spicer: Thank you.

One from Andy Wild, Wild Defense: Consulting capability, capacity, and agility in the defense industrial base are critical to producing military capability and capacity to achieve joint overmatch. What is your view on the risk that today’s industrial base infrastructure and workforce challenges present to achieving joint overmatch? And how are you addressing these risks in your current role?

ADM Grady: Sure. It’s great question. We’ve danced around the strike zone on the defense industrial base, you know, for the whole hour.

I think there’s at least – at least three characteristics of the defense – that characterize the defense industrial base right now that may have to change, or at least that we have to – that we have to understand and live with.

The first is the contraction, right? So even from the mid-’80s to – you know, when I came in in 1984 to where we are now, the industrial base has gotten much, much smaller – shipyards, double digits to what we have now, as an example.

The second is the complexity of everything we build. So if we were pumping out three Liberty – a Liberty ship every three days during World War II, we’re not going to do that with a Virginia-class or a DDG or, similarly, an F-35. That’s just not going to happen.

And then I would say that the third element is industry, for all the right reasons – I get it – kind of went to this just-in-time piece of sustainment and logistics as part of the industrial base. I guess that makes sense. I certainly understand what that means from a profit motivation. But that’s a phase-zero world, you know, if we use that construct; it’s not a phase-three world. So we’re going to have to – we’re going to have to fix that going forward.

And so we’re going to have to think, then – lessons learned from Ukraine – about being a good partner with the defense industrial base starting with R&D and innovation, most of which comes from industry now. It used to be the department; it’s now out there. So that demand signal that may come out of things like the JROC is what we need. Getting them involved early is important. But we’re going to have to – we’re going to have to work with them to come up with the right answer of is it stockpile or a production line, and what is the right balance between those two. I don’t have an answer for you on that. I know Bill LaPlante and his team are working that really, really hard. But that’s what we’re going to really need.

I can point to munitions as an example. One of the things that the chairman’s kicking around is, you know, we have these big munitions accounts and we paint a broad brush across all those. Maybe it’s time to take a look at which ones are really important and really invest in those, whether it’s CPS to the previous question or LRASM. I’ll tell you one: Mark 48 ADCAP torpedoes. We’re going to need more of those for this – for this team. So what is that answer, and how do we get to that?

In the end, though, I think what we want is a – is a defense industrial base that is one that’s – one that’s built on competition, where there’s free flows of capital, that is built on strong innovation with a demand signal from us, that has supply chains that are robust and resilient. It’s a defense industrial base that increasingly is going to have to be hardened. It’s one that has to build on larger – writ large the industrial base; so, you know, what do – what do allies and partners bring to it. And it’s an industrial base – and this gets to the discussion about things like CAPEX and the rest that Secretary Del Toro’s been talking about, the 21st-century foundry that we’re going to need going into the future. So back to comments on digital design, digital engineering, agile software design, all the things that I think make up the digital – the digital industrial base that we need.

And then the last one, and perhaps THE most important one, is we must value and encourage the artisans to come to us. And so I don’t call them workers anymore, because if you look at anything they build they are – they are artisans of the highest order. And so encouraging a resilient workforce is going to be absolutely critical. You know, we talk about national service. That’s a form of national service, and you can get paid pretty well doing it. And so we undervalue that, and I think that’s changing, and we need to value that more so that we have the workforce we need.

RADM Spicer: Well, sir, we are out of time. There’s was a ton of questions, though, so there’s – you’ve generated lots of interest on the part of the group here.

In closing, I just want to thank, again, HII for your sponsorship. I want to thank our partner, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Dr. Seth Jones. And I especially want to thank you, Admiral Grady, for taking time to be with us but also for your tremendous service to our nation. So thank you so much.

ADM Grady: Thank you.

RADM Spicer: How about joining me in a round of applause? (Applause.)